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Shoreline Awards Neighborhood Matching Grant for Old Sunset Elementary Site

Mini-grant of $3,942 goes to the Richmond Highlands Neighborhood Association

Editor's note: The following piece was produced by Patch partner, Public Data Ferret, in the following format and originally published on the Social Capital Review blog of Public Eye Northwest (PEN), a registered Washington state non-profit corporation applying for federal 501c3 tax-exempt status. PEN works to advance digital civic literacy across diverse communities, and foster voluntary government transparency.

SUMMARY: The Shoreline City Council on June 27 approved a mini-grant of $3,942 to the Richmond Highlands Neighborhood Association for a community art project and public event at Sunset School Park. The school has been closed since 2007 and has been vandalized. Combined with complementary funds raised by the association, there will be more than $11,000 to pay for early-phase services and materials to improve the park, including a community artist to lead a September 10 “pARTy at Sunset” community celebration. The event will result in a mural, or fence collage project to boost the property’s public appeal through a five-year period including the school’s demolition. More extensive redevelopment of the site into an open green space and park is expected, under citywide and site-specific parks master plans. 

BACKGROUND: Sunset Elementary closed at the end of 2007 due to lowered enrollment in the Shoreline School District, leaving the building unoccupied for the last four years. Since then, the school has been vacant and has suffered vandalism. This mini-grant is part of a larger effort to help improve and transform the land into a more community-oriented space. This project is part of the city’s bigger Sunset School Park Master Plan. Boeing Creek Park has already undergone renovation under another master plan, improving paths, public areas and drainage. The budget for the city’s mini-grants totaled $20,000 this year. The maximum amount for each grant is $5,000. The purpose, according to the Shoreline City Council, is to “support neighborhood improvements, promote neighborhood associations and fund activities and events that bring neighbors together.”

KEY LINKS:

KEY FINDINGS:

  • This mini-grant for $3,942 to the The Richmond Highlands Neighborhood Association would be taken out of the city’s Neighborhood Mini-Grant fund, which still has $13,508 in its budget. The group “Friends of Sunset Park” has raised about $7,500 to complement the mini-grant, according to the City of Shoreline. The money would go in part to fund a September 10 event called “pARTy at Sunset,” a one-day “community celebration” for art improvements at Sunset Elementary. It would also go into paying for a community art project that would be added to Sunset, to “make it a more attractive community gathering place.”
  • Most of the money from the grant would go to funding a “community artist” to help with the actual art project. This community art project has been planned to be either “a mural or a fence collage.” The purpose of either of these projects would be to last through demolition if the master plan for Sunset continues.
  • Along with the event, the grant would help maintain current parts of the school. This includes repainting parts of the playground and basketball court, and building an information kiosk at the site for interested citizens.
  • Sunset Elementary has been part of a “master plan” by the Shoreline City council since July 2010. This “master plan” details park improvements that would help strengthen the Shoreline community. Another park included in this plan is Boeing Creek Park, which has spent $1.7 million to improve a 36-acre natural forest. Eventually, according to the master plan, the property of Sunset would turn into an open green space, getting rid of the building and creating a full-fledged park.
  • The land is still owned by the Shoreline School District, but in October 2009, the District and the City Council reached a Memorandum of Understanding that the land needed improvement and both would contribute to helping improve Sunset.

Andrew Taylor of Western Western University is an intern for Public Data Ferret, a project of the non-profit Public Eye Northwest.

John March 16, 2012 at 05:18 AM
Nice article and glad to hear of the efforts of community members along these lines. Glad to hear that a nice park is planned long term to "make lemonade out of lemons." "BACKGROUND: Sunset Elementary closed at the end of 2007 due to lowered enrollment in the Shoreline School District...." Well, long term enrollment trends were declining long term. But, what actually forced the hands of Shoreline Schools were two huge mistakes they made. One was a spreadsheet blunder that greatly exaggerated state contributions for vocational programs. The second was getting in too deep on a energy savings initiative that had a huge upfront cost, unfortunately timed to coincide with the above spreadsheet error. That's what put the district in the red and forced the disrict into an all hands on deck panic drill to get back in the black. As I said, glad to hear we may actually be able to make some lemonade out of all those lemons from 2005/2006 and the sacrificial lamb, Sunset Elementary.

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